It’s one thing to move to a new home across neighborhoods or towns or within a state.
Moving across the nation from Minnesota to Florida?
Stress. Crazy stress.
The Israelites fleeing Egypt suddenly in the dead of night? Pshaw! They had a pillar of fire to help.
First, we have to corral all the stuff, the endless stuff, into cardboard boxes. “It’s a little known fact, Normy” that material things breed late at night until all available space in a home or garage is completely filled.
After that, we had the grand blow-out garage sale. Oh no, not the $5 haggle-like-a-sly-merchant-in-the-marketplace-in-Cairo kind of sale. It was the “I gotta dump all this stuff so give me the most ridiculous price on this patio umbrella and I’ll throw in the wheelbarrow and logging chain for free” kind of sale.
Okay, so I use the word “sale” rather loosely. But you get the idea.
Clearing all the non-essential stuff out was a load off my mind. One less thing (or things) to be concerned about. But then came other concerns I had to round up.
Things like coordinating the two sides of the real estate paperwork (sale and buying). Packing the remaining stuff. Arranging for POD delivery and pick-up. Finding and synchronizing packers to schlep boxes and pack the PODS. Stopping the utilities. Saying goodbye to friends and family. Wrapping up some final pastoral visits. And finally, the last night on mattresses on the floor.
We did our pre-signing of the sale closing papers the day before we left and suddenly realized…
I thought the concerns would start falling away at that point. Nope. They just kept galloping around in my mind, the dust swirling around and clouding my inner vision.
We drove to Chicago with three packed-to-the-gills cars, towing a boat with a boat cover that became increasingly frayed. Fitting, because so were my nerves. And one of the most annoying things was the wench on the GPS that kept nagging me in that sing-song smug little voice of hers that I had missed a turn. “Yes, I know I have to turn around, take a left, do a somersault, and take the ramp back onto Interstate 94. I’m stopping for gas, you GPS nag!”
Okay, so once again I was underway. I decided to keep searching for music as is my habit that Jeanne finds so annoying. But I was alone. Large and in charge of the music selections! (Yes, I’ve actually worn the paint off the “seek” button on my car radio.)
In one day we drove through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. I was surprised. Just like every person has a unique fingerprint so states have a unique blend of radio station formats.
Illinois was very urban – rap, jazz, rock, very urban as one might suspect – as we buzzed by Chicago. Indiana was blander with a noticeable increase in the number of Christian stations. No, I’m not saying the Christian stations were bland. The Illinois urban format gave way to more of an Indiana soft country sound.
Ohio was just weird. I can’t explain it. It was an eclectic mash-up of new and old, even driving through a major city like Dayton. West Virginia was exactly what you’d expect. Country, Bluegrass, and contemporary on the FM side, and old-timey preachers on the AM side. Virginia was like the big brother of West Virginia, more refined, more variety, but there were still a lot of radio preachers bringing God’s Truth home.
In North Carolina, I gave up. I had developed a callous on my scanning finger and I finally had to punch off the radio for some peace and quiet.
And in the quiet, I finally decided to talk to the Lord and listen, which I haven’t done a lot over the last few weeks having been consumed with all the moving logistics and arrangements.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’ve talked to the Lord a lot! It mostly consisted of “Please do this and that. Please help with this and that. Please help us find a place to store the boat…” and on and on.
Now I decided to listen.
The Lord speaks to me several ways. Often, He gives me a picture, builds the picture, and then gives me the gist of what He wants me to know. This one was cool.
I asked the Lord to show me my interior state, how I was doing and what did I needed to address. Right away the picture of a concrete post came to mind. It was the same size as what most of us know as a fence post only made of concrete. It was sunk in the ground out in the middle of what looked like the prairie.
Okay, Jesus. A concrete post. So what?
Then I saw a bunch of horses tied to it. “Aha! It’s a hitchin’ post,” my brilliant mind determined. I saw myself reaching out to take hold of one of the horse’s reins and the beast started pulling and resisting. I knew if I let go, it would run off and I’d have to chase it. So I left it tied to the concrete post along with the rest of the unruly critters.
This is where it gets cool.
Jesus appeared. I know what you’re thinking. In chaps and a Stetson, right? Wrong. Same old, same old.
But as He stood there in my Old West panorama, He reached out His hand. I took one horse’s reins and gave them to Him. The horse quieted down immediately.
I took hold of another set of reins and He said, “Why don’t you let me handle that?” Again, I handed the reins to Him.
Then He revealed what He was saying and doing.
Each of these horses represented the cares and concerns I had been carrying over the last two weeks, problems solved and problems yet to solve. He was asking me to identify each one by name and hand them over to Him.
In my hands, the reins were my attempt to control each concern. In His hands, the reins became His “reign” over each concern. (I love it when the Lord speaks to me in puns!)
He didn’t want me to be general in naming these concerns, either. He wanted specific names.
“That the car will run smoothly and get us to Florida.” “That the boat cover will last long enough.” “Boat storage.” “Work duties I can’t get to while on the road (like writing an article).” “Opening new bank accounts.” I could feel the burden pressing down on my hard, a burden I had been bearing for too long for nothing.
One by one, I named and handed Him the “reins,” now “reigns,” of each horse (concern). As I did, I felt a tangible lightening of my mental and emotional burden.
Oh, I still had those problems to solve, but now when I think of each problem, I see a mental picture of Jesus leading a herd of those now-compliant horses away under His reign. All I have to do now is follow.
After all, I’m under His reign, too.
So try it. Every day, see yourself naming your “wild horses,” your cares and concerns, and transferring the reins of your control into the hands of the One who reigns in complete control.
Casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you (1 Peter 5:7).
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Are you tied up with a mess of cares and concerns right now? Clear that concrete hitchin’ post and hand the horses to Jesus.
Let Him take the “reign.”
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts